Learning is not one single process, but a complex one with many overlapping areas coordinating between themselves. It is based on being stimulated through the senses, by being engaged physically or by doing something, also emotionally, advanced thinking and imagination, and as mentioned by activating the memory.
Learning is Complex
Learning is a complex process that occurs when we experience or encounter something new. When this happens, the brain creates new connections between neurons and the more one is exposed to the same thing, the stronger these connections are formed. The working and the long-term memory support this as our memory is important in the processing of information by forming associations between concepts, and also in the retrieval of information.
When we are exposed, repeatedly, to concepts or ideas that are similar or related, we become more efficient in their processing and understanding. An example of this would be when learning a language, the more you practice this language, the more fluent you become. In addition to this, once the brain is handling and retrieving the information more effectively and efficiently, then the person is also able to reason things out, apply this knowledge to different contexts and be able to solve problems or create something new.
How can we learn apart from reading a book about something?
Initially, as babies, we learn through social interactions, we observe others who expose us to new opportunities, ideas, thoughts and language. We understand patterns in behaviour, and respond and react differently to situations which are based on what we already know. We take current knowledge and understanding and use this as a springboard to explore and adopt new ways of behaving, talking and understanding. This doesn’t happen in isolation but is integrated by learning and acquiring information through our senses and also by action and doing things. By physically attempting new tasks, we are learning about different aspects- ourselves, others, and the task at hand. School then presents us with different media for learning, through books, facts, and logical and sequential processes. All of these are used as a ladder for us to climb until we can reason out all the information gathered and learned, in order to be able to think more abstractly and become able to apply this to different contexts and creatively come up with solutions or new ideas.
Which aspects help with learning?
According to the research by Lim et al (2019), some core components that support learning are: – Memory, since it affects attention and positive emotions also facilitates memory retrieval, creative thinking and decision-making skills.
– Motivation and curiosity, since these impact how much the individual is committed and engaged with the topic at hand.
– Alertness and persistence, as the body is physically ready to engage with learning processes.
– Sensory learning: the more senses involved the better the long-term memory and recall is.
– Reflective learning, where the learner is able to review and reflect on what is being learned.
What should I keep in mind when learning something new?
Ideally, you observe and understand which situations help you to learn more efficiently so that you can use this to your advantage. There is no hard and fast rule, and learning changes across your life, depending on the situations and contexts that you find yourself in. The most important thing to keep in mind is that learning is complex and it is an interplay of a number of aspects. You can also observe your learning preferences and try to replicate these when encountering something new.
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Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.
Guy, R., & Byrne, B. (2013). Neuroscience and learning: implications for teaching practice. Journal of experimental neuroscience, 7, 39–42. https://doi.org/10.4137/JEN.S10965
Lawrence et al. (2020). It Is Complicated: Learning and Teaching Is Not About “Learning Styles”. Frontiers. https://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frym.2020.00110
Lim, D. H., Chai, D. S., Park, S., & Min, Y. D. (2019). Neuroscientism, the neuroscience of learning: An integrative review and implications for learning and development in the workplace.
European Journal of Training and Development, 43(7), 619-642. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJTD-03-2019-0033